Can’t help but overheard a small discussion between two of my marketing colleagues. One is asserting that now it’s still an era of ‘Content is king’, in that the company’s website could be looking good, they might have twitter and Facebook accounts all set up as a new media outlet and even has a sound mobile strategy, but at the end of day, people still looking for content. I felt this is actually more complicated than it looks and worth some deep dive.
The phrase ‘Content is king’ is first introduced and widely discussed by Bill Gates in 1996: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. … Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products—a marketplace of content.” In year 2012, the money spent on subscription and advertising per year is 35 billion, a 17% increase compare to the prior year, according to comScore. So undoubtedly, content is still very important, but something has changed forever:
Change 1: Content has become a broader concept. For example, before, a fine art photograph is just that, a fine art photograph. But nowadays, it’s a self-contained package of content: The date it’s taken, where it’s taken, with whom, what’s happening when the photo is taken, what inspired the photographer, what’s the back story about the photo, what genre this photo belongs to, then all these information needs to be distributed to different blogs, photo sharing apps, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. to be consumed by the Internet. As an artist, it’s very simple world for them before, they just need to focus on creating great works, a.k.a. great content. But now, they need to create much more than that, because consumers dig that, the way people consume content is changing dramatically. That leads to my second point:
Change 2: The way content is consumed has become shorter, faster and shallower. Simply put, people lives in a ‘now or never’ era. In the old days, it’s not uncommon for a person to read a well thought out article, contemplate it for a week and discuss it with friends for another week to fully explore what the article tries to say. Not anymore. People rarely has time to contemplate in a ever changing world. Everything is moving so fast that we don’t have the luxury of time to stop and think deep. (Some people still manage to do that and I show my respect to them). The prevalence of twitter proves that, people are more comfortable consuming shorter, quicker, liter piece of information. There are so much information on the internet, so much content that the lifespan of any content, good or bad, has become much shorter. From a content creating point of view, this is also true, because things are moving so fast, if you didn’t capture the moment to report that new event, or capture that ‘hot genre’ to release your new song, it will very quickly become last year’s news and no one will pay any attention to it. To stand out, content provider need to do more to differentiate themselves, which lead to the next point.
Change 3: Content itself is not enough, differentiation is the key word now. Before, publishing content has a big cost and thus big hurdle of entrance. That hurdle has long gone. The content providing industry has evolved from a ‘Hit economy’ to a more ‘long tail’ model. Small or Indie producers, amateurs, students, and the giant big hit producers are all out there creating content, and all has the possibility of being successful. (Gangnam Style anyone?) So to really standout, the content needs to be unique, well marketed, friendly to social media, and SEO optimized etc. It should also carefully choose which channel or platform to go with, so the consuming experience is great to both the older generation and the new. Content needs to differentiate anyway they can to stand out.
So in my view, content is still the king, but instead of sit in his throne all day, he now needs to practice public speech, learn how to dress properly, hone his charisma, and give friendly audiences to more people. Because even though content is king, customer is god like Japanese likes to put it.
Image: via OracleDigital